A renewable energy jobs apprenticeship program - INCLUDING SOLAR TRAINING - should be up and running in St. Lucie County within the next month, officials said last week.
This new program will train workers for jobs in the renewable energy field aimed at improving the environment, such as increasing emergency efficiency and the installation of solar panels to a house.
Recently, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who is running for U.S. Senate visited the site.
"The fact is, you are 10 steps ahead of any county in Florida, urban or rural," Congressman Meek said.
The center is located on U.S. 1, between Edwards and Midway roads, at the old Sam's Club, which is now the home of the St. Lucie County Logistics Center.
"It's coming together," County Commissioner Charles Grande said. "It's people in St. Lucie County who are putting it together."
The program is a joint effort between the county government and 8 trade unions. Union workers are renovating the section of the building that will be used for the center.
With St. Lucie County having a high unemployment rate, County Commissioner Doug Coward said it was vital for workers to retrain so they are able to tap into what will be an area of enormous growth in the coming years.
Mr. Coward said the county is also working to create a revolving loan fund that will allow home and business owners to obtain long-term, low interest loans to make solar energy improvements.
Although Florida has long been considered a prime area for solar power, the cost has been prohibitive for many businesses and residences, Mr. Coward said.
Affordable loans will boost solar training projects that will provide jobs and apprenticeships to workers trained at the Logistics Center, Mr. Coward said.
With the solar training program combining with low interest loans, the organisers are hoping to double the number of solar energy installations in the state in just one county, he said.
There's also the hope that the county will attract related industry, such as a manufacturer of solar panels, Mr. Coward said.
Congressman Meek said he's impressed with the solar training program and its potential.
"The bottom line is we have to put folks back to work," he said. And this solar training program could be the first step.
Solar energy training
Solar power training
Solar panel training
Solar electric training